How do anticipated short-term costs affect the likelihood of engaging in an activity that has long-term benefits. Five studies investigated the factors that determine (a) how anticipated short-term costs elicit self-control efforts and (b) how self-control efforts eventually diminish the influence of short-term costs on behavior. The studies manipulated short-term costs (e.g., painful medical procedures) and assessed a variety of self-control strategies (e.g., self-imposed penalties for failure to undergo a test). The results show that short-term costs elicit self-control strategies for self rather than others, before rather than after behavior, when long-term benefits are important rather than unimportant and when the costs are moderate rather than extremely small or large. The results also show that the self-control efforts help people act according to their long-term interests.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science